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A meeting turns sour after fishermen object and complain about the new changes projected to the Old Football Field and Lagoon Area in downtown San Pedro that were presented to them at a consultation meeting on Friday, January 14, 2011.

A preliminary consultation for the Old Football Field (Saca Chispas) Sunset Boardwalk and Water Taxi Terminal was held on Monday, November 9, 2010. At the meeting, the project’s overview was presented to have a waterfront development on the lagoon front to create a new destination within San Pedro Town which will consolidate water travel to serve local and international traffic, provide new opportunities for leisure and commerce, build public-private partnerships for commercial and cultural growth, promote waterfront beautification, and further the overall enhancement of Ambergris Caye as a tourist destination, resulting in an increase in overnight tourist visitation.

It was a meeting filled with mixed emotions as some thought the idea of beautifying the area, having a sports complex which is so desperately needed, as well as the parking facility are great ideas. But making major changes in the area for the fishermen was not easily acceptable to everyone in attendance.

After the project was modified since the first consultation and the fishermen having some time to weigh the options of the project, it seems that they have unanimously decided that they do not approve of the project.

These modifications were presented to at least 30 families of fishermen who are stakeholders in the lagoon area where the project is intended to drastically change the appearance and operation of their businesses at a meeting held on Friday, January 14, 2011.  The second consultation was chaotic, to say the least. The fishermen, who had held meetings among themselves prior, are now more than convinced that they do not like the changes proposed to them.

The dialogue between the fishermen and representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) turned sour as both groups strongly stood their grounds. The IDB proposes to go ahead with this $6Mil project with changes to accommodate the stakeholders’ needs, but the fishermen who use the area do not want the changes or entire project at all.

Stakeholders (Fishermen) Concerns:
*Alterations to the Lagoon Area ecosystem that will affect the tarpon breeding grounds and delicate mangroves
*Alterations to the fishermen’s existing docks which will rob them of their private docks and business
*The docks have been an ancestral part for all of the fishermen who use the area and don’t want to lose the little that they have.
*San Pedro will lose another little part of the island charm that is left from years past.
*Tourist are drawn to this lagoon-side as it is, wanting to learn more about San Pedro’s past.
*Residents do not want San Pedro to change its environment to a Cancun-like one.
*The new water taxi terminal proposed in the area will cause more congestion in the already narrow canal and heavy trafficked area that leads into the back lagoon.

The Inter-American Development Bank is offering loans to the Government of Belize to make improvements in the Tourism Sector around the country. This money cannot be used in other areas around the island like on the streets, Poly Clinic or sewage system, as proposed by those who attended the meeting. These areas are of higher importance for the island, but the $6Mil has to be used directly for the improvements in the tourism sector.

The consultation meeting was set up to determine whether residents of San Pedro approve or disapprove of the $6Mil project to enhance the Old Football Field. Results from the meeting will heavily influence the IDB’s decision on moving forward with it. With the island’s stakeholders heavily disapproving the project, it is expected for the IDB will scrap the new improvements but we have yet to know what is their next move and decisions. The island is at risk of losing this money, but the fishermen hope that an agreement can be made to use this money elsewhere on the island and not for drastically changing the environment they have been using for years.

Related Article: First Consultation Meeting

Map of projectConsultation meetingResidents post protest signs along lagoon area to be affectedResidents post protest signs along lagoon area to be affectedResidents post protest signs along lagoon area to be affected

Dorian Nuñez's picture

Dorian Nuñez


  1. avatar

    This project will cost 6 million dollars. It will supposedly attract tourists to the area. The area can be beautified without spending 6 million dollars to look like Cancun. And yes, there are drunks in the area, but isn't there anywhere you go? That 6 million dollars can be spent on a hospital, on fixing central park, and on fixing the streets. Why not fix up the soccer field with some real grass so it can be used for sports for the local kids! Get grass, bleachers, and equipment. Most tourists would love to come watch local teams/kids play and have fun. We need infrastructure, and that does not mean this project, it means the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, and power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. As for the making tourists feel unsafe, I have met numerous tourists who enjoy going back there to watch the men that have been there for 40 or 50 years clean their fish. This is the only IDB project country wide that will displace Belizean families.

  2. avatar

    San Pedro is my home, where i was born and raised. I have seen it grow more in the last five years than my 21 years living there ( thank you Elsa). I am proud to say, that i am glad with the dramatic changes that were taken to make San Pedro what it is( the Number 1 place in Belize). I know that the fishermen are probably upset about the changes that the town council has proposed. But let get real. The lagoon needs lots of help. Money that we don’t have. San Pedro has taken care of it self for the past years without the help of the government and that why, the little changes we do seem to look big. Puttling a sports center at Saca Chispas should have been done years ago, the center can be used for many things. Children need a place to play, they are all scattered around and never get the chance to make new friends, no wonder their someking and drinking at a young age.

    Has any one ever been in one of the lagoon dock? they are pretty broken up. If the docks could speak, they would probably beg to get put down. San Pedro needs change, we are in crisis, we need to get more tourist on the island.

    we all benefit from it even the fishermen.

    I am a fishermen, my dad was a fishermen and his great grand dad was a fishermen. It runs in my blood. But to stop a project for the benefit of few is not right.

  3. avatar

    there  is  only  one answer  to  this  and  that is,,,''no''   to  the  project...

    the  only  ones  not  included  in  the  deciscion,,,are  the  sea  creatures.... i bet they dont  want  it..!!

    talk  about  what  tourists want......tourists  started  comming  her  b/c  of  the  peace and  quiet  in  s.p.,,,,  and  the  reef,,,and  all  the  fish...and  the  people ...!

    it  was  the  lay  back 'quaint'  island  village  they  came  to  enjoy...

    why  cant  the  polititions  see  that  ...?

    whats  left  in  san pedro.......

    conjestion.....  hot  paved  streets.....[so  much  for  ''barefoot in belize'']

    megolith ,overpriced condo apartements,....

    many/most...dredged and destoyed pristine lagoons..all paying  the  constuction workers...a  poverty  wage...

    most   exporting  the  profits


    belize  has  already  passed  up  the  opportunity  to  be  unique  in  it's  view  and  management  of  the  jewel..and  seems  to  have  sold out  to   foriegners desire  to  reep the  short term profits  that  the  polititions  have  allowed  them  to   take....leaving  the  sanpedranna youth  with a subservient future..!!

    PARADICE ...''SOLD''

    shed a tear





  4. avatar

    1. Hospital
    2. Sports Center
    3. Fix up Central Park
    4. Fix up San Pedrito
    5. Fix up the library
    All of the above are things that can be done with 6 million dollars. Do we really need a boardwalk to make us look like Cancun.

    What if a tourist dies after falling off a golfcart? And we don't have the medical help necessary to save them. How will that help tourism?

    A sports center is direly needed. But it does not need to be included in a six-million dollar plan for a "boardwalk". Get some actual lights, functioning bathrooms, goals, equipment, and bleachers for the local kids. Fix up the fence. The step to beautifying the area is not putting up a All the local boys that play soccer pee directly on the side of the road, because no one likes those dirty bathrooms.

    You know what will attract tourists more than a "boardwalk" that looks like something out of Cancun? How about some garbage cans closer together in town. How about an arts center? How about functioning public bathrooms?

    What about fixing up central park, which is yet another unfinished project! Where's the water structure that was supposedly going to work? How about fixing the swings so the kids can actually have pride in the park? How about re-painting the swing and play area.

    Honestly. Do something useful with this money.

  5. avatar

    As an outsider who is researching a trip to Central America in preparation for what could end up being an international relocation, I see a lot of valid arguments on both sides. 6 million dollars is a lot of money, and one would be wise to spend it efficiently. Like most scenarios regarding local funding, there is going to be a large segment of the population who is not in favor of the decision. However, once the projects have completed, you will see some of the same people who initially oppossed the project, see that it did have its advantages. This does not mean their opinion changed, but that they can separate themselves from that initial decision and still enjoy the advantages of an improved community.

    Whatever is decided, I hope San Pedro and its citizens prosper from the decision.

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